Roche Schulfer said Wednesday that he plans to retire from his position as general manager of the Goodman Theater effective Aug. 31.
“There is a season for everything,” Schulfer said in a phone interview.
While the news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given that Schulfer is 72 and that Goodman’s longtime artistic partner Robert Falls is leaving in 2022, the departure leaves Chicago’s largest theater in the turbulent waters of COVID-19 It brings to a close a remarkable arts management career that he masterfully directed. 19 crisis and the changing tastes and habits of audiences.
Schulfer (Tribune’s Chicagoan of the Year in Theater in 2023) was first hired to work at Goodman’s box office in 1973; This was a period when the American regional theater movement was still young and Chicago theater was dominated by touring Broadway shows. He has remained in his position through two locations and various artistic directors, including a transition to his current artistic director. susan booth. However, 35 years Partnership with Falls was his most important.
“Roche has always been Goodman to me,” Julie Danis, chair of Goodman’s board of trustees, said in a telephone interview.
To replace Schulfer, Goodman will promote current general manager and chief operating officer John Collins, 44, a Schulfer mentee who has been with Goodman since 2008, Danis and board chair Linda Coberly said.
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Coberly said the board considered conducting a national search like the one it did for artistic director in 2022, but instead determined “the guy is here.” The list of qualified candidates to lead one of America’s premier theaters will be short and will certainly include Collins, who is well-liked by the staff, board representatives said. “John is the final puzzle piece we need to complete our new picture,” Coberly said. “We think she will be an excellent partner for Susan (Booth) as we move this theater forward.”
Schulfer said he plans to stay on as a consultant for another year after his retirement date, help the theater plan its centennial, and will work quickly throughout the summer. “I am very grateful to Goodman,” he said.
Schulfer’s tenure includes highlights such as the construction of all 10 models. August Wilson Nearly 400 shows of all genres, including some world premiere plays and the rise of playwright David Mamet, as well as many that have moved to Broadway. Schulfer oversaw the relocation of the Goodman Theater from the Art Institute to a new theater complex in London. Northern Loop in 2000after this expanding footprint several times.
It kept its staff employed during the pandemic, allowing Goodman to recover more quickly than many of its peers. And, of course, he found the funds and managed the logistics that would allow Falls to stage massive and wildly successful productions like the one in Chicago. “Death of a salesperson” in 1998 and “The Iceman is Coming” Schulfer also worked extensively with the Chicago Theater Association for many years.
“Roche’s DNA is in the building,” Danis said.
Chris Jones is a Tribune critic.